There is a reason the U.S. Constitution calls for three separate branches of the federal government. It is called oversight. It is called separation of powers. It is called checks and balances. The framers of the document were particularly sensitive to the possibility of a leader attempting to take too much power and turn the presidency into a monarchy, so they designed a system of government to prevent such an event. Donald Trump is the personification of their fears.
On 27 January, Trump signed an executive order implementing a ban on people arriving from seven Middle-Eastern, primarily Muslim countries. His order was ‘effective immediately’, with no pre-planning, no discussion with others who might have foreseen the secondary effects of the order, and no warning. Thus, many were affected by the ban that were already in the air on their way to the U.S. The result was total chaos at the airports, mass protests, and confusion among customs personnel who had not been briefed ahead of time.
One must question the sense of urgency with which this ban was implemented and the reason for it. To the best of anybody’s knowledge, Trump’s order was not prompted by any identifiable or specific threat. So why wasn’t the time taken to meet with intelligence experts and others to assess the wisdom of the ban, likely immediate ramifications, and ways to cut down on the backlash if it was deemed necessary? Why? Because Trump remains, as I said many months ago, the Man-Who-Would-Be-King. Now we are seeing the results of his impetuousness and those results are disastrous.
On Friday night, 3 February, Federal Judge James Robart halted the enforcement of Trump’s order, effective nationwide. Robart, ruling in a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Washington state and Minnesota who sought to stop the order, said the states “have met their burden of demonstrating that they face immediate and irreparable injury as a result of the signing and implementation of the Executive Order. “ He said the order adversely affects residents in areas of education, employment, education and freedom to travel.
Trump, naturally, was enraged that Judge Robart had the unmitigated gall to defy him, and took to Twitter: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” And … “When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security – big trouble!” And … “Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it’s death & destruction!” And … “What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?”
Lawyers for the Trump administration immediately requested a federal appeals court to overturn Judge Robart’s ruling, but the appeals court declined to do so. Instead, the appeals court set a schedule asking challengers to the ban to file a response by 3:00 a.m. on Monday, and the Justice Department — representing the Trump administration — to reply to that by 6 p.m.
And still more tweets from the grand poobah:
“Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision.”
“The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy!”
Something interesting to consider: What if Trump decided not to recognize Judge Robart’s authority? According to Daniel P. Franklin, a professor at Georgia State University, the ultimate arbiter would be the other branch of government. He said Trump could be held in contempt of court, and it would then be up to the House of Representatives. “[Contempt of court], in my opinion, is a ‘high crime or misdemeanor’ in the meaning of the Constitution, and he would be subject to impeachment,” Franklin said. “Whether or not the House of Representatives would see it that way is another question. It is at that point their call.” Joel Nichols, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas: “The key to whether court orders are going to be obeyed isn’t about what President Trump does, but about how the judges respond to noncompliance and whether other non-Trump players decide to obey their orders. I think that some federal judges would be willing to issue a contempt order against [Trump], but I’m not sure they should or would, and they don’t need to. They only need to issue specific orders about laws and regulations, and then hold other government officials in contempt for not following the court order.” It’s all very hypothetical, but Trump’s rhetoric — not just about the judge’s decision, but the judge’s actual authority — and his apparent desire to press his case for his own authority suggest it’s not out of the question.
Again I ask: why the sense of urgency??? We have not had a travel ban to this point, and unless I am grievously un-informed, there is no new looming threat hanging over our heads. If anything, Trump has made the country less safe with his poorly constructed, poorly considered executive order. I call on Congress and the Judiciary to stop this madman from imposing dangerous and harmful orders that can only damage this nation more than he has already done.
Amid all the chaos, turmoil and confusion, it is easy to lose sight of the most damaging result of Trump’s ill-conceived order: the lives of refugees. In the midst of the chaos, there appears to be no accurate data regarding how many people have actually been turned away, but the estimates range from 60,000 to 100,000. We call them ‘immigrants’, ‘refugees’, or ‘asylum-seekers’, but in truth, they are human beings. HUMANS! Just like you, just like me. They are mothers and fathers trying to keep their children safe. They are people who have lived through the horrors of a war that most of us cannot even begin to imagine. And they are being bounced around like ping-pong balls by the government of this nation, a nation that once proudly welcomed all people. I am deeply ashamed of the so-called president of this country, deeply ashamed of any who support this ban. To those who argue that Trump is merely trying to keep the nation safe, I would ask the question: safe from whom? Our greatest threat today comes from within. Think about it.